Samantha Bee Brings Crowds to the Arlington
By Lauren Bray
Late night talk-show comedian Samantha Bee drew big crowds to the Arlington Theatre on Thursday. Lauded as the "late night queen of political satire" Bee is the first woman to host her own late-night satirical news show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2016.
Bee was also the longest-serving correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where for 12 years she was one of the program’s few female correspondents and, in my opinion, the funniest.
Hosted by UCSB Arts & Lectures, the theatre was packed with students, community members, and many "Nasty Woman" shirts. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Full Frontal began selling the shirts after Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a "nasty woman." A percentage of the proceeds went towards Planned Parenthood and in July they reached over $1 million for the organization through t-shirt fundraising alone.
Full Frontal levels-up political satire with a fresh perspective on breaking news, as well as in-depth stories that have been overlooked by larger media outlets. Not only is it hilariously entertaining, but it's informative and eye-opening, some may even call it "daring" and "innovative." Entertainment Weekly called it just that. For a sneak peek at her work, below is a short clip from Full Frontal where she tackles Harvey Weinstein's abuse and the sexual harassment women have been enduring for centuries.
It's no secret that I've been a fan of Bee's since her Daily Show days and I was beyond thrilled to see her live. After a brief introduction, Bee took the stage with The Independent's Starshine Roshell, who was moderating their conversation.
Bee discussed her time working with Jon Stewart and said it really gave her a love of doing field pieces, especially when more senior staffers didn't want to travel to South Dakota, she would jump at the opportunity. Her current show has made fieldwork a key element because Bee sees its value, plus she loves doing it. She also discussed how her past work history helped her nail those long comedic monologues at the opening of every show in just one take, perhaps even those early years when she played Sailor Moon in a traveling theater production helps out.
The high point of the discussion was when Bee discussed spending many years being concerned with people pleasing and what others thought. She stressed the importance of being unapologetic in your work, especially after being asked if she feels she ever goes too far with her jokes. Her biggest platform is founded on being "unapologetically feminist" and it's obvious she's one of the strongest voices on television advocating for women's rights in all realms. This message resonated with a largely female audience who cheered exuberantly.
Shortly after, the line of questioning took a turn in the wrong direction. After a few hiccups with Bee correcting misinformation, the discussion turned to her domesticated feminine role within her own household. Monotonous questions about her family, her morning routine, asking if she cooks breakfast for her kids, if she cleans up for them, if her husband is involved, her husband's job, how she met her husband, etc. filled up a large chunk of the conversation.
Then, it happened. Roshell asked Bee, "How do you stay so trim?" Audible murmurs of frustration reverberated throughout the theatre. I was shocked to hear a female journalist ask another female, who is very well known for her fiery objection to sexism and all things discriminatory, how she stays physically fit. Women in the spotlight have long been pointing out how sexist these questions are. Just recently Jane Fonda redirected her interview with Megyn Kelly from plastic surgery back to the movie she was there to promote in the first place.
Women have been constantly reduced to their appearance and domestication, rather than their career, intellect, and drive. In my personal opinion, these types of questions were sophomoric, ill-informed, and downright objectionable. In the words of Emma Stone, after a reporter asked her about her looks, "Thank you, that's all that matters" (insert sarcasm font).
Bee took it in stride and did her best to answer the questions politely while several times asking the audience, "are you sure to want to hear this?" to which the audience kind of shrugged.
I felt the evening would have been much more dynamic if it was focused on Bee's career achievements, the inner-workings of her show, what they have planned next, her own personal views of the state of the world and where it's headed, and any advice she has for women moving forward.
At the end of the event, a question and answer segment from the audience dove deeper into Bee's thoughts and expressions of feminism, especially during these politically charged times. Despite one UCSB student who directly insulted the majority of the audience for being "old," to which Bee joked she's going to get "ripped to shreds" for saying that, the audience questions were thoughtful and informed.
Leaving the Arlington Theatre on Thursday night there was a murmur of excitement for hearing Bee's insight while witnessing her quick wit and sarcasm. But there was also a large echo of frustration and disappointment for lackluster moderating and questioning, despite Bee's best efforts.
Although, there's still hope to get your Samantha Bee fix and thirty minutes full of luster, watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.
Click here to see more events hosted by UCSB Arts & Lectures.
Lauren is a member of the Dedicated Edhat Staff and is a proud nasty woman.